Tuesday, December 24, 2013
From the blog of the Law Library of Congress, we're happy to share a link to this post about Christmas Movies and the Law.
Happy holidays everyone!
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Hot off the virtual presses, here's the Fall 2013 newsletter of the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research: Download AALS LWRR Fall2013 Newsletter It's chockful of articles, announcements, and a "dance card" for the upcoming annual meeting.
Thanks to outgoing chair Judy Rosenbaum for sending it on.
The University of the District of Columbia School of Law and Howard University School of Law will co-host the Fourth Annual Capital Area Legal Writing Conference on Saturday, March 1, 2014. The conference will take place 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It will include presentations on a broad range of topics, including theories of legal writing pedagogy, teaching and evaluative techniques, developments in legal research and writing scholarship, the use of technology in the classroom, the interrelationship between legal writing and other substantive areas of law, and the future of our profession given changes in the legal academy and the workplace. The organizers invite proposals for panel presentations on these and any other relevant topics.
This is a free conference, so there is no registration fee for presenters or attendees. Howard University School of Law will host the conference web site and will soon send out information on how to access the web site and register for the conference. The deadline for submission of panel presentation proposals is December 31, 2013; e-mail proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org.
hat tip: Cris Houston
Monday, December 16, 2013
Here's a good cautionary tale about understanding outlining and about proofreading carefully: the interpretation of a contract turned on whether "8(h)(i)" referred to a subsection of "8(h)" (the "i" as a romanette) or was meant to be "8(i)" (the "i" as a lower-case I).
Chicago-Kent College of Law seeks applicants for the position of Director of its Legal Writing Program. The Director will teach a section of Legal Writing I and II, and may also teach a doctrinal course in an area of interest. In addition, the duties of the Director will include 1) training and supervising new first-year legal writing professors, 2) hiring, training and supervising legal writing Teaching Assistants, 3) facilitating pedagogical planning and design of the first-year research and writing course, 4) managing the first-year Legal Writing Program’s budget, 4) coordinating first-year legal research training, 5) participating in first-year legal writing faculty hiring and retention, 6) reviewing course evaluations for all first year sections, 7) addressing student concerns related to the first-year course, and 8) collaborating with the Director of Experiential Learning to achieve continuity and instructional excellence across the legal writing curriculum.
The Director will also be expected to promote curricular innovation, participate actively in the law school and legal writing communities, advocate on behalf of the Legal Writing Program internally, promote the Program externally, engage in legal writing or other types of scholarship, and support the scholarly activities of the legal writing faculty.
Applicants should have a distinguished academic record, at least five years of experience teaching legal writing, and strong leadership, administrative and interpersonal skills. Supervisory or administrative experience is desirable, but not required. Chicago-Kent is an Equal Opportunity Employer, and diverse candidates are encouraged to apply.
The Director will be hired at the rank of Associate Professor of Legal Writing or Professor of Legal Writing, depending on qualifications and experience. The position is eligible for long-term renewable contracts that comply with ABA Standard 405(c) on security of position.
The review of applications will begin after Friday, January 24, 2014, and continue until the position is filled. To apply, address a letter of interest, CV, and contact information for at least three references to the attention of the search committee chair, Adrian Walters. Please submit these materials via email to Nicole Lechuga, email@example.com.
1. The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five years or more.
2. The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.
3. The school anticipates paying an annual academic base-year salary of $90,000 or more. 4. The number of students enrolled in each semester of the legal writing courses taught by this professor is 30 or fewer. The professor may also teach a doctrinal course whose enrollment could, but would not likely exceed 60 students.
hat tip: Suzanne Ehrenberg
Sunday, December 15, 2013
The faculty of the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State has voted to promote Mary Beth Beazley to full Professor of Law. (The University's Board of Trustees still must approve the promotion, so it will not be effective until 2014.) As one colleague observed on the legal writing professors' listserve, even a law school can be counted on to get something so obvious right eventually. Congratulations on this long overdue status upgrade, MB!
hat tip: Monte Smith
Thursday, December 12, 2013
The ABA Journal has a fascinating piece up that excerpts Bryan Garner's interview of the late David Foster Wallace, novelist and author of Infinite Jest. Wallace's advice goes to the heart of the issue I often face with students trained to write by academics:
Garner: A lot of lawyers say to me they’re writing for judges who themselves don’t write very well, who write a lot of jargon-laden stuff, so they think the best expressive tactic is to mimic the style of the judges for whom they are writing. Does that make sense to you?
Wallace: This gets very tricky. The same thing happens in academia. When students enter my classes, very often what I end up doing is beating out of them habits they were rewarded for in high school—many of them having to do with excessive abstraction, wordiness, overcomplication, excessive reliance on jargon, especially in literary criticism.
Somebody like a judge or a professor who is himself [whispering] a really bad writer is nevertheless usually a really good reader. And he or she will not necessarily make the number of connections you’re worried about when you worry that “if I turn in this pellucid, lapidary marvel, somehow the judge won’t like it because it’s not like the judge’s own style.”
I would say if judges are like profs, 99 percent of them will reward you for clarity, for precision, for minimizing the unnecessary effort they have to make. And it probably won’t occur to them that it would be a darned good idea to incorporate some of these principles into their own writing because some people are just dumb as writers.
So that is an argument, I think, for: Regardless of whom you’re writing for or what you think about the current debased state of the English language, .... the fact remains, particularly in the professions, that the average person you’re writing for is an acute, sensitive, attentive, sophisticated reader who will appreciate adroitness, precision, economy and clarity. Not always, but I think the vast majority of the time.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
If you're looking for a well-written blog with tips and discussion about contract drafting, look no further than Drafting Points. Written by Vincent Martorana, Counsel at Reed Smith, the blog offers thoughtful commentary on topics such as rhetorical problems in drafting, types of contract provisions, and clear drafting. The blog also highlights upcoming events and CLE's. A helpful resource for those of us who teach drafting!!
Monday, December 9, 2013
The legal writing listserv has been buzzing with praise from around the country for the December legal writing workshops. "The evolving legal writing classroom" was the topic at Arizona State, St. Louis University, Suffolk University, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Michigan. At Charleston, Drexel, Marquette, Thomas Jefferson, Touro, and Baltimore, the topic was "Preparing practice-ready students." And participants at the University of Oregon discussed "Innovation and leadership: LRW and beyond."
Attendees of various one-day workshops praised them as "really informative," "fantastic," and "a treasure trove."
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research has announced that Jan Levine of Duquesne University School of Law is the recipient of this year’s Section Award. Jan has been a tireless supporter of and advocate for the legal writing field. He has also advocated on behalf of and assisted many individual legal writing faculty members in gaining better salaries and status, both at schools where he has been a teacher and director and at other schools across the nation.
In selecting Jan as this year’s Award recipient, both the Section Award Nominating Committee and the Section Executive Committee considered the fact that Jan is also this year’s Blackwell Award winner, but concluded that the criteria for the awards are different and that others have received both the Section Award and the Blackwell Award, though not necessarily both in the same year. The Section will present its award to Jan at the Section lunch on Friday, January 3, 2014.
hat tip: Judy Rosenbaum
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
University of Kentucky Legal Writing Director Melissa Henke recently offered lawyers a helpful mnemonic to sharpen legal documents. "P.A.S.S." reminds a legal writer to determine the Purpose of a document, identify its Audience and Scope, and decide what Stance to take in writing it. As Professor Henke puts it, "these big picture questions" will help the lawyer in organizing a document, deciding how to present its arguments, and determining what writing and formatting conventions to apply. Read more about using P.A.S.S. at page 16 of the November Kentucky Bench and Bar Magazine.